We ran two free workshops last week at the museum. The first one, in the morning, looked at using online finding aids to identify records that might be useful for the project and where to find them. Under the guidance of Jane Wilson, one of the project’s volunteers, we had hands-on sessions using the online catalogues for Durham Record Office and The National Archives. Both produced good results – even introducing us to potentially-useful records we hadn’t known existed!
The afternoon session concentrated on doing family history-style research which can add so much more information about the men and women identified on the Roll of Honour on the project’s website (www.thebowesmuseumww1.org.uk). Sometimes all we have is a surname, initials and the location of a war memorial, or a name mentioned in the Teesdale Mercury. Experienced family history researchers Ann Hughes, Carol Hutchinson and June Parkin helped us through various online sources to military and civil records, including some only available through Ancestry (which we hope will be available in the near future for project volunteers to use in the museum). We were able to add information to the several database entries on the Roll of Honour, as well as seeing how to use a range of online sources.
We plan to repeat the workshops in early August (date to be confirmed) when they will be open to current and potential volunteers. By having hands-on sessions, aided by experienced volunteers, we hope to encourage people to see how they can enhance the Roll of Honour entries, investigate the stories behind some of the Teesdale men and women who served in the First World War, and gain skills and confidence in doing family history research.
If you are interested in helping the project in any way, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or use the contact facility on the project website (see above). We’d also love to hear from you if you have any information or memorabilia about Teesdale and its people during the First World War.
Judith Phillips, Research Advisor to the project